Stories from the Road: An Interview with Program Leader Eric Brown

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Stories from the Road is a new blog series
where we spotlight WorldStrides program leaders who take us on a ride—start to
finish—through their journey of taking students on the trip of a lifetime. So,
buckle up and read on!

Eric Brown is a WorldStrides program leader who has spent the last 24 years traveling with students from Hamilton Intermediate Junior High. His most recent trip was in Washington D.C. over Labor Day weekend in September 2022. Brown typically takes around 160 students each trip but has experience taking as many as 300 students.

What got you in to the education field in the first place?

​“Family tradition.  My mother, father, older sister, and
even younger brother are all teachers.  While growing up in my house, the
number one conversational topic at the dinner table was “teacher
talk.”  Being a teacher seemed like the only option.”

What
made you first decide to lead a travel program in your school/for your students? ​

“I started out as a chaperone and saw first-hand the amazing experience and impact the trip had on our students.  When our corporation expanded to open a new junior high, I was more than happy to carry the torch in our new building, and I’ve never regretted it.”

After
all these years, why do you continue to lead travel programs for your
school/for your students?  ​

“It never stops being rewarding. The students come back changed. At our school we talk about an adolescent’s ‘circle of awareness’ and these experiential trips drastically broaden those circles. Seeing things like the Holocaust Museum and Arlington have a profound impact on even the most cynical children. Parents love that their children have a chance to experience these moments in a safe and supervised environment. Our teacher chaperones love seeing their students and bonding with them in a different setting outside the classroom. If all of these aren’t reason enough, add in the amazing benefits WorldStrides offer the teacher organizer and it is impossible to say no!”

What
was your favorite part of the trip you just took? ​

“Arlington. I never get tired of seeing the wreath laying
ceremony. My chaperones nominate and vote for our wreath layers.  You
can see in their eyes the nervousness from the weight of the role they are
taking on, but when it’s over that nervousness turns to pride for themselves
and for what they just accomplished.”  

What
was your student’s favorite part of the trip you just took? 

“I do a Google survey with all my kids right after we return to see what they liked and didn’t like.  It helps me form next year’s trip itinerary.  Here are the ‘favorites’ from this year:  monument: Lincoln, museum: Holocaust, evening activity: Capitol Wheel, traditions: bus karaoke.”

In
all your years of travel, do you have a good ‘a-ha’ moment to share – something
specific that happened to a student where they came back to you several years
later and said “Mr Brown, remember that moment…well it changed my life
and now I am …”

“One moment that will always stand out to me was the year I had a student meet his dad for the first time while on our D.C. trip.  Let me explain. His mother was pregnant while his father was deployed.  Unfortunately, his father lost his life while in line of duty and was buried at the Arlington Cemetery.  It was very moving for all our students and chaperones to witness this reunion when we found his gravestone. Nothing could more clearly show the impact and sacrifice that the men and women in our armed forces and their families give.”

If
you could share one thing with a teacher who has never traveled with students
before, what would that one thing be?

“Stop worrying. You’ve made the right decision working with WorldStrides. They are going to walk you through every step from the beginning to the end.  Relax and enjoy the trip as much as the students! It’s as much of an experience and adventure for you as it is for them.

Any
other comments you want to share?

“​Life is a series of adventures and memorable moments.  You chose to be a teacher because deep down you love working with kids.  Go share some of those moments and adventures with those kids!”

Check out this great video Eric and his students created of their recent trip to D.C. watch here!

Are you a WorldStrides program leader with a story to share? Contact socialcontent@worldstrides.com for more information.

The post Stories from the Road: An Interview with Program Leader Eric Brown appeared first on WorldStrides.

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